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On Assignment: So how do you shoot a ghost?

The Dominican Hill

It seemed a daunting task but I took on the assignment with much gusto as delving into the paranormal intrigues me. Seair Inflight wanted to feature Baguio’s famous haunts for its October-November Issue. There was research done on the famous and not so famous spots. But as with any ghost stories it’s a question on how would you catch anything that isn’t corporeal. Let alone a question of belief if they do exist.

Misty Morning at Dominican Hill
Misty Morning at Dominican Hill

It seemed a daunting task but I took on the assignment with much gusto as delving into the paranormal intrigues me. Seair Inflight wanted to feature Baguio’s famous haunts for its October-November Issue. There was research done on the famous and not so famous spots. But as with any ghost stories it’s a question on how would you catch anything that isn’t corporeal. Let alone a question of belief if they do exist.

Like a good film maker or director, the best way to evoke ‘haunting’ is through the power of suggestion. The audience has a powerful and playful imagination and the reader can think of anything by just giving them the proper stage and scenery. I think there are three key points when it comes to shooting ghost stories as such.

Shadows lurking at Dominican Hill Ruins
Shadows lurking at Dominican Hill Ruins

Know the Story.  It’s what people think of a haunted place is where the imagination starts. What made this house haunted? What happened here that people are afraid to walk by this road in the middle of the night? These questions are the spark of the story. Hunting for these kinds of stories is the start.

Capture the mood. It is the only way to evoke that air of mystery. What I love about Baguio is the mist that blankets its mountain slopes. On crumbling structures, the texture on the walls tells the story. Also suggesting a sense of movement by using slow shutter speeds adds an eerie mood in the picture. It’s like showing something obscure and let the imagination of the reader draw the conclusion.

Postprocess Magic. A lot of people are irked when they say that a photo has been processed. Personally I don’t do overboard processing on my photos. I let the art director decide on the treatment he likes. For stories such as this he needs to have a consistent feel for all the photos on that feature. Like in films, I let the special effects people do their magic. I’m quite pleased on the output on print. The photos looked more menacing and haunting.

A Page in Seair Inflight (Art Direction by Jocas See)
A Page in Seair Inflight October-November 2009 (Art Direction by Jocas See)

By Ferdz

Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.

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